The rape of a 12 year-old girl by three American servicemen in Okinawa, Japan in September 1995 and the statement by a US military commander that they should have just picked up a prostitute became the pivot moving Johnson who had once been a supporter of the Vietnam War and railed against UC Berkeley’s anti-Vietnam protesters into a powerful critic of US foreign policy and US empire.Johnson argued that there was no logic that existed any longer for the US to maintain a global network of bases and to continue the occupation of other countries like Japan. Johnson noted that there were over 39 US military installations on Okinawa alone. The military industrial complex that Eisenhower had warned against had become a fixed reality in Johnson’s mind and essays after the Cold War ended.In four powerful books, all written not in the corridors of power in New York or Washington — but in his small home office at Cardiff-by-the-Sea in California, Johnson became one of the most successful chroniclers and critics of America’s foreign policy designs around the world.Before 9/11, Johnson wrote the book Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire. After the terrorist attacks in 2001 in New York and Washington, Blowback became the hottest book in the market. The publishers could not keep up with demand and it became the most difficult to get, most wanted book among those in national security topics.He then wrote Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy and the End of the Republic, Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic, and most recently Dismantling the Empire: America’s Last Best Hope. Johnson, who used to be a net assessments adviser to the CIA’s Allen Dulles, had become such a critic of Washington and the national security establishment that this hard-right conservative had become adopted as one of the political left’s greatest icons.Johnson measured himself to some degree against the likes of Noam Chomsky and Gore Vidal — but in my mind, Johnson was the more serious, the most empirical, the most informed about the nooks and crannies of every political position as he had journeyed the length of the spectrum.…Many of Johnson’s followers and Chal himself think that American democracy is lost, that the republic has been destroyed by an embrace of empire and that the American public is unaware and unconscious of the fix.
the big sleep
Let’s fall in love with musicThe driving force of our livingsThe only international languageDivine glory, the expressionThe knees bow, the tongue confessesThe lord of lords, the king of kings– Mother Love Bone
In keeping with this, we find that the interest inspired by philosophical and also religious systems has its strongest and essential point absolutely in the dogma of some future existence after death. Although the latter systems seem to make the existence of their gods the main point, and to defend this most strenuously, at bottom this is only because they have tied up their teaching on immortality therewith, and regard the one as inseparable from the other; this alone is really of importance to them. For if we could guarantee their dogma of immortality to them in some other way, the lively ardour for their gods would at once cool; and it would make way for almost complete indifference if, conversely, the absolute impossibility of any immortality were demonstrated to them. For interest in the existence of the gods would vanish with the hope of a closer acquaintance with them, down to what residue might be bound up with their possible influence on the events of the present life. But if continued existence after death could also be proved to be incompatible with the existence of gods, because, let us, say, it presupposed originality of mode of existence, they would soon sacrifice these gods to their own immortality and be eager for atheism. The fact that the really materialistic as well as the absolutely sceptical systems have never been able to obtain a general or lasting influence is attributable to the same reason.
How did Nietzsche’s ideas about music affect his philosophy?“Without music life would be an error” is a great T-shirt slogan, but its meaning is far from obvious. Here is how Nietzsche glosses his aphorism in a letter from 1888, the last year of his sanity:“Music … frees me from myself, it sobers me up from myself, as though I survey the scene from a great distance … It is very strange. It is as though I had bathed in some natural element. Life without music is simply an error, exhausting, an exile.”Nietzsche’s first book, The Birth of Tragedy, dedicated to Richard Wagner, is constructed around the duality between the “Apollonian” and the “Dionysian.” Apollo stands for intellect, reason, control, form, boundary-drawing and thus individuality. Dionysus stands for the opposites of these; for intuition, sensuality, feeling, abandon, formlessness, for the overcoming of individuality, absorption into the collective. Crucially, Apollo stands for language and Dionysus for music. What, therefore, music does is to–as we indeed say–”take one out of oneself.” Music transports us from the Apollonian realm of individuals to which our everyday self belongs and into the Dionysian unity. Music is mystical.Since the human essence is the will to live–or for Nietzsche, the “will to power”–the worst thing that can happen to us is death. Death is our greatest fear, so that without some way of stilling it we cannot flourish. This is why musical mysticism is important. In transcending the everyday ego we are delivered from “the anxiety brought by time and death.” Through absorption into what Tristan und Isolde calls the “waves of the All,” we receive the promise and experience of immortality.Later on, Nietzsche realized that not all music is Dionysian. Much classical music, based as it is on the geometrical forms of dance and march, is firmly rooted in the Apollonian. Yet as the 1888 letter indicates, he never abandoned the musical “antidote” to death. Without music, life would be anxiety and then extinction. Without music, life would be an “exile” from the realm of immortality.
Isn’t it time we stopped wasting valuable land on cemeteries? Talk about an idea whose time has passed. “Let’s put all the dead people in boxes and keep them in one part of town.” What kind of medieval bullshit is that? I say, plow these motherfuckers up and throw them away. Or melt them down. We need that phosphorous for farming. If we’re going to recycle, let’s get serious.
— George Carlin
I’ve always expressed a wish to be cremated when I die, but I’m open to persuasion that green burial is the way to go:
But hardcore green burial devotees like Mary are not particularly fond of cremation because of the energy costs involved in incinerating the bodies and the pollution it creates. You could drive across the country and halfway back on the energy used to cremate someone. And mercury from dental fillings released into the air with incineration adds up to somewhere between 1,000 and 7,800 pounds of mercury, a quarter of it floating back to earth. Greensprings would rather have your body — your whole body — going back into the earth.
Plus, there’s a whole lot more romance and poetry in the whole imagery of burial and the grave. An urn full of ash just doesn’t quite fire the imagination in the same way, does it? In any event, having already specified exactly how I want to go about shuffling off this mortal coil, let me take a moment to further address the ritual corpse disposal issue. I like Richard Grant’s idea in American Nomads, where he tells his wife that he wants to just be left in the desert when he dies:
“If you can fix it, let me die somewhere in the desert. I hate the idea of dying in the hospital, and I don’t want to end up in a cemetery. Terrible waste of calories. Just leave me out in the desert to get recycled.”
“That’s illegal,” she says, which I hadn’t realized. “But okay.”
The coyotes break the silence from time to time, yammering and howling in the distance, somewhere down in the canyons. I might feel differently when the moment is at hand, but it doesn’t sound like a bad fate right now – to fuel the wanderings of these splendid animals, and the flight of vultures, and get picked clean by ants, and then to enter the bodies of ant-eating lizards and lizard-eating birds and coyotes, while my bones crumble into the soil and nourish a cactus or a juniper tree. It’s enough reincarnation for me.
I’m partial to the mountains on the East Coast myself, but the sentiment is the same. I trust that one of you can make sure that happens if need be.
Speaking of support for capital punishment, approximately 60 percent of Americans still support the death penalty. Why does it persist in this country when the majority of developed nations have abandoned it?It’s becoming clear to many people in this country that we have a very high number of people in prison and that we are using capital punishment more than many Western nations. When you add it all up, the United States is really quite a punitive nation. And yet, many of the people who created the foundation for this country were sent as slaves, convicts and indentured servants. Our society was built on that — like Australia, it’s very much a part of our DNA. But we don’t want to acknowledge that. We want to put our prisons out of sight, out of mind, and have executions that seem to not be causing any pain and are carried out out of the public gaze because it doesn’t square with our notion of who we are.– Salon
All of these sensible-seeming regulations lay bare the illogic of the claim that there is “right” to die. This is because if there really is a right to die, why should the scope of who is permitted to commit suicide be limited to the terminally ill, or those who are in pain? If one begins with the premise that there is a “right” to die, then it follows logically that all suicide should be legalized.
…More deeply, this indicates the foolishness of legalizing assisted suicide at all. Indeed, legalizing assisted suicide has the effect of bureaucratizing what would otherwise be a personal, private choice. In sum, rather than increase the scope of personal liberty, legalizing assisted suicide actually shrinks it. Laws like Oregon’s Death With Dignity act say: you only have the power over your own body if a group of doctors and government officials says you do. How is this consistent with the notion of the individual ”right” to die? And where is the dignity in submitting yourself before a panel of doctors who will determine whether you qualify for state-sanctioned suicide?
For someone who calls his column “Epstein’s Razor” and tops it with a picture of himself looking supercilious as all hell, you would think this wouldn’t be too hard to grasp, so I suspect he’s missing the point on purpose.
First of all, “rights” are, by definition, granted (and revoked, let’s not forget) by the state, so anyone pressing for the legal right — see, the word “legal” should be a clue here — to do this, that, or the other will obviously be looking to the state to grant it to them. Despite his smarmy attempt to pretend otherwise, this doesn’t have anything to do with personal liberty, any more than the absence of legalized gay marriage means that gay couples can’t love each other or enter into committed relationships. You can and may die whenever you want, by whatever means you choose, as people always have and will. But if you want to die in a hospital or hospice by means of a lethal dose of highly controlled medication administered by a professional, as opposed to messier, more painful DIY methods, you’ll need the state’s permission, and the utilitarian standard they’ve pretty much settled on is a loss of autonomy due to terminal illness. These people are agitating for the right of certain terminally ill patients to die in highly specific circumstances of their choosing, not as a general principle for all citizens at all times.
And while having to petition a panel of doctors to consider your case may be undignified to some, most people who don’t have a religious or extreme anti-statist agenda would certainly concur that it beats slowly wasting away in agony while needing a nurse to wash your ass and change your diapers.
I’m seriously heartbroken today. Peter Steele of Type O Negative died last night.
Music and books really are what I live for most of all. But music has always been the omnipresent aspect of my life, and I’m proud of the fact that I’ve never lost my passion for it as I’ve gotten older. Which is to say, music isn’t merely frivolous entertainment for me. It makes life worth living. Beethoven’s heroism be damned; if I ever went deaf, I’d commit suicide.
So even though I never met Peter in person, this hits me just as hard as it would to hear that a member of my own family died suddenly. In many ways, it’s no surprise. Or, rather, given his morbid, self-deprecating (to the point of self-abusive) sense of humor and unvarnished honesty about his struggles with clinical depression and drug addiction, and his incessant references to death in his songs, the only surprising part of it is that he didn’t usher himself out. But living in anticipation of it doesn’t make it hurt any less, as I’m sure we all know.
I don’t even know what I could possibly say in mere words to convey just how important his music was to me. “Musical genius” gets thrown around far too casually these days, but if anyone deserves that appellation, he does. At a time when the airwaves were filled with stripped-down alterna-punk bands doing their best to make music as simple and straightforward (read: fucking boring) as possible, Type O Negative were studio wizards, making gloriously romantic, melancholy, lush, dynamic, heavily layered sonic masterpieces that stood up to countless listenings. October Rust and Life Is Killing Me, especially, will always be two of my favorite albums of all time, bar none. Thank you for everything, Peter. I’ll miss you so much.
Brendon is, of course, doing his usual shock jock/frat boy thing in the presentation, but I don’t doubt that the underlying sentiment is sincere, as I’ve heard the same sort of thing from countless people before. We do love us the opportunity to sneer at substance abusers who just wouldn’t listen in middle-school health class, don’t we? Not so “cool” now, are you, stoner boy? Ah, we’ve come so far from the days when early church fathers like Tertullian and Augustine could openly talk about how one of the greatest pleasures awaiting the elect in heaven was being able to look over the ramparts and enjoy the spectacle of all the damned being tortured in hell.
I ask again: aren’t we supposed to be living in a post-Christian world or something? When is Idiot America going to finally get the memo? This relentless drive to moralize about absolutely everything under the sun is so fucking tiresome, not to mention misguided. The majority of human activity simply has no moral significance at all. There are no prizes for effort being handed out at the finish line. No bonus points, no credits, no frequent flyer miles being accrued. The universe does not give a hop, skip and a fuck how you die, at what age, or in what circumstances. John Calvin’s angry God is not going to be mollified if you make it to age 96, bedridden, full of guilt and regret for lost opportunities, and wearing a diaper. Precious few of us ever get to die with dignity intact, whether it comes by way of heroin in our veins, cheese and beef in our arteries, disease in our genes, or whether we just didn’t properly stabilize the ladder before cleaning out the gutters. Given that, you might want to recognize that your main responsibility while alive is to your loved ones, not to a resentful, humorless vision of life as a trial of endurance.
Singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Mark Linkous has committed suicide, his publicist confirms to Rolling Stone.
I can’t believe what an eerie coincidence this is. You probably know how it is when you discover some new artist with so much good material — you spend a few days just wallowing in it, absorbing it all, noticing all the minutiae and details that only become apparent after repeated listenings. Then the glow fades a bit, and when you listen to them, you feel a little inured to their charms — not much, but it doesn’t have the same intensity as it originally did.
But every so often, whether it’s due to the stars aligning just so, or the weather having some sort of effect on your subconscious, whatever the cyclical phenomenon, you get possessed by the urge to listen to them again with the same passionate intensity as when you first discovered them — the romance is back in the relationship!
Well, that’s what’s so eerie and uncanny — I had just been having one of those spells around the time he died. For a few days beforehand, I had been listening to them while working and at home. The day he died, I was checking their website to see when some new stuff might be coming out, since it had been four years since the last record. This morning, I had listened to them for a few hours straight while working, only to come home and see this news. That’s what makes it such a visceral shock to me, to be riding high on that sort of artistic communion, only to have that cold water thrown in my face suddenly.
Obviously, that weary innocence in his music feels even more poignant in light of this. I guess it isn’t hard to see how someone who felt like that could eventually be overwhelmed by the world, but still…you just kind of hoped he’d manage to squeak by somehow and keep making music along the way.
I always thought it was cool that he spent a little time living in my old hometown, where his family has roots. But those achingly beautiful songs, fragile as blown glass…I can’t believe there won’t be any more of them.
Thank you for everything, Mark.
Here’s something strange: for some time now, and with increasing frequency, my first coherent mental activity upon waking has been a vivid sense of my own mortality. I mean, vivid. Like, lying on your actual deathbed-vivid. I’ve always had a strong disposition toward melancholy and morbidity, but this isn’t the same thing. It’s not an intellectual understanding of mortality, it’s a pervasive feeling of it, into my bones, as if the disorientation of sleep has removed all the mental barriers we keep around us so as to be able to continue with our mundane activities. No more distractions — YOU ARE GOING TO DIE, with all the subtlety of a foghorn in your ear.
I can’t really recapture that feeling once I’m up and moving around, so I’ve taken to getting up a few minutes earlier just to be able to sit and reflect on it while it lingers. I don’t think too hard about it; I just try to observe it unobtrusively. Just acknowledging its existence and seeing how it affects me. As you can imagine, this was pretty jarring at first, but I’ve actually come to look forward to it somewhat. Not for any of the usual pragmatic, utilitarian, self-help rationales — I don’t care if it lowers my blood pressure, or gives me a more balanced perspective on trivial irritations, or any of that shit. It just feels…right. Good for its own sake. More real.
The best part of waking up is Thanatos in your cup.
Your life and mine were woven together with the thread of countless shared experiences. Now wide asunder, loose stitches hanging uselessly, revealing the emptiness at the heart of existence that our feeble tapestries are meant to hide.
Blurry eyes, bitter hands. Needle and thread, begin again.